Small Business Marketing Automation Trends Software Advice Research

Following on from our blog "Is Marketing Automation Relevant to SMEs in the UK?"  in the series on marketing automation for small businesses, we came across some recent research from marketing software research and review company Software Advice. This research shows that only 2% of SMEs have a marketing automation platform and 47% are still using manual methods.

Taken from a sample of 365 interactions with marketing automation purchasers, they analysed the top reasons why companies were evaluating marketing automation, as well as reasons for buying, and what those companies were currently using, across a variety of market sectors.  Bear in mind that this is a US company, so 60% of their clients are American, but outside of the US, they receive most of their queries from the UK and Australia.  So although these results might be more representative of  a more international base, US trends in business often wing their way across the atlantic to the UK.  Here are the findings from the Software Advice survey.

Most Buyers Are Evaluating Marketing Automation for the First Time

Only 2 percent of buyers that Software Advice spoke to already had a marketing automation system in place. 98% of buyers were looking into marketing automation for the first time.  In order to manage their marketing activities buyers were using a range of methods, of which 'manual' methods came out top.  We found exactly the same in our own research.  In our case, Excel spreadsheets came up trumps with small businesses as being an easily accessible way of keeping their CRM and email list data. 

Buyers’ Current Methods of Managing Marketing Activities


Current marketing management tools

Traditional Marketing Trumps Social Media Marketing Functionality

The top requested features among buyers contacting Software Advice were contact management (74 percent) and email marketing (55 percent). Only 4 percent of buyers requested social media marketing functionality.   

Most Requested Marketing Automation Features

Most requested features

Many Buyers in Real Estate Are Seeking Marketing Automation Software

Thirty-seven percent of buyers, the highest percentage of buyers in Software Advice's sample, work in the real estate industry. 31 percent of these real estate buyers are currently using industry-specific software.  Now this is where our experience at CommsBox differs.  We are finding that most interested sectors are charity, consultancy, media and legal practices.

Prospective Buyers by Industry

CHARTS Marketing Automation Software - BuyerView 2015 FINAL.001.png

Software Advice Researcher Commentary

"Our data shows that almost all companies are evaluating marketing automation software for the first time. Many also still rely on manual marketing methods, such as pen and paper, spreadsheets and one-off emails to manage their marketing activities. As such, many are overwhelmed by managing contacts and leads and seek out marketing automation software to ease the burden. Given this, vendors would be wise to continue expanding contact and lead management capabilities and also offer solutions that better meet the needs of specific industries."


"Our advisors regularly speak with buyers who contact Software Advice seeking new marketing automation software. To create this report, we randomly selected 365 of our advisors’ phone interactions with U.S. small-business buyers (from companies with annual revenues of $50 million or less) during 2014 to analyze. The data presented was collected from those interactions for business purposes rather than for market research. These findings exclusively represent those buyers who contacted Software Advice for guidance on software selection, and may not be indicative of the market as a whole. Expert commentary solely represents the views of the individual. Chart values are rounded to the nearest whole number."

We would like to thank Software Advice for the data provided for this blog.

Find out more about marketing automation for small businesses in the UK

If you want to find out more about how CommsBox can help your small business implement marketing automation, we will be exhibiting at the CIM Small Business Marketing Conference at the University of Hertfordshire on 22nd May from 9am until 4pm.  Or you can contact us directly.

Read about Tammy, Edward, Nigel and Gordon, our four SME personas, what they think of marketing automation and what excites them about CommsBox in our blog "Is Marketing Automation Relevant to SMEs in the UK?"  The blog includes a chance to enter a prize draw for a free marketing audit (available to companies in the UK, drawn on 1st September 2015).



Caroline WrightCaroline is Marketing Director for
CommsBox, marketing automation software.  Her industry experience spans high technology companies, charities, membership organisations and the creative industries. Caroline also works as Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at the University of Hertfordshire and has been instrumental in setting up their new BA Marketing with Digital Communications.  She also works with postgraduates on MSc Marketing and with professionals taking Chartered Institute of Marketing/CAM Digital Marketing Diploma.You can connect with her on LinkedIn.


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CommsBox was designed by YellowHawk Ltd in response to the needs of some rather large corporate and government clients. But then we realised we had something that small and medium sizes businesses could also use to fuel their growth.

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